Student owned ‘I.M. Walker’ focuses on sustainable fashion


Photo contributed by Isabella Walker

Isabella Walker modeling her caramel satin corset top which is available on the I.M. Walker Design’s etsy page.

Madison Kosar

California Lutheran University third-year student Isabella Walker has created her own sustainable clothing company here in Southern California. 

From a young age, Walker has known that she has always wanted to go into the business world. When she was younger, she would play business owner with her siblings.

“I always knew I had a business sense and I’ve always had a passion for the business industry,” Walker said. 

Walker started her business in June 2020 but it was under the name Bella’s Mask Boutique and mainly sold fabric face masks. 

“I like to consider it more like me dipping my toes into the business world and just getting a feel for how everything works when it comes to running a business,” Walker said.

After she felt more comfortable in the business world, Walker decided to take another step in pursuing her dream of becoming a designer. She first started designing purses.

“When 2021 started, I designed a line of baguette bags, those are 90s style purses that have been reincarnated into the modern fashion scene and those really took off. I was really excited about that and I felt like I had momentum from this,” Walker said.

Walker used that experience as motivation to create her first collection last year.

“In May 2021, I launched my fashion label and my first fashion collection which was my summer 2021 collection,” Walker said.

Walker learned how to use a sewing machine at a young age with the help of her mother. Her mother learned from her grandmother and it has become a shared family skill. 

“We used to make little dresses for my barbie dolls when I was little and that was always very exciting for me,” Walker said.

Walker continued to improve her sewing skills and eventually made her own clothes throughout high school. But towards the end of her senior year, she took a break from sewing to focus on college applications and other big changes happening in her life.

“But when the pandemic started, I had all this free time. So I went back to sewing because it gave me a purpose when I felt like I had nothing to do,” Walker said. 

Since I.M. Walker Designs is a female owned business, Walker spoke on what her experience has been like in a male dominated industry.

“As a woman, meeting other women in the business industry has been really neat because you can connect and support each other. Although there are more men in the business industry, I don’t think it has prevented me from going after what I want to do,” Walker said.

Her clothing line is also listed as ethical and sustainable on her Etsy page.

“I.M. Walker focuses on producing ethical and sustainable fashion so each of my items are ethically handmade in the United States by me. As I personally design, sew, and package each product myself,” Walker said.

Some of her products feature deadstock fabric which is fabric that fashion companies have excess of that typically ends up in landfills. But when they don’t, small businesses like hers can buy and repurpose them. 

“This is really helpful because as a smaller fashion label, I prefer to produce my collections in smaller quantities,” Walker said.

She also wants to make sure her brand values are emphasized in her company which are ethical production, sustainability, and inclusivity.

In order to make her company more size inclusive, Walker offers a range of sizes from extra small to extra large depending on the item.

“A lot of my products can be custom sized which is one of the really cool things about my brand, I have the flexibility to do that,” Walker said.

Walker wants others to feel included when shopping with her and included in the business industry.  She wants aspiring female business owners to know that they can do it and there are so many resources out there for them. 

Advisor to the Women in Business club, Dr. Ran Lu-Andrews, offers women at Cal Lutheran a space to connect with other student entrepreneurs. 

“The club, Women in Business, is inspired by the aspiration of women who would like to have their role elevated in the business world,” Lu-Andrews said.

Lu-Andrews believes that there is still a lot of stride to be made when it comes to women’s roles in the business world.

“Compared to many years ago, this area has improved significantly but we can do more to continue the improvement or accelerate the improvement,” Lu-Andrews said.

Walker hopes that in the future she will be able to grow her company and continue to inspire younger girls to fight for what they want.

“Don’t be afraid to jump in and try something new,” Walker said.